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What is Part P?

I wrote this article aiming to briefly and accurately explain Part P and how it affects domestic electrical work, and hopefully clear up the large amount of misinformation surrounding it. Information in this article comes from the government approved document for Part P, and applies to England only - slightly different rules apply for Wales and Scotland. You can find the full document by clicking on this image:

Part P of the building regulations covers electrical safety in dwellings. It applies to dwellings, and their associated buildings and land. Examples include houses, flats, communal hallways serving apartments, and gardens, sheds, or garages associated with a dwelling.

Part P doesn't usually apply to business premises, unless it shares an electricity meter with a dwelling. Also, residential accommodations that are a place of work - for example university halls of residence, or residential care homes, are not covered by Part P.

In short, Part P has 2 main points:

1. All electrical installation work should be carried out to BS7671 ('the wiring regulations').

2. A limited range of work (considered to be higher risk) is notifiable to building control.

What work is notifiable to building control?

1. Installation of a new circuit: A new circuit with its own circuit breaker in the consumer unit.

2. Replacement of a consumer unit

3. Additions and alterations to existing circuits in special locations. This means work in close proximity to a bath or shower, or in a room containing a sauna or swimming pool. See the diagram below for clarification.

All other electrical installation work is not notifiable - namely additions and alterations to existing installations outside special locations, and replacements, repairs and maintenance anywhere.

This means that minor electrical work such as additional sockets, lighting, etc would not usually be notifiable. Installing an electric shower where there wasn't one already would be notifiable, however, replacing an existing shower with one of the same specifications would not be notifiable - even though it is in a special location, it is a direct replacement.

Note that prior to 2013, there was a greater range of notifiable work which included work in kitchens and outdoors. This is no longer the case - work in kitchens and outdoors is now not notifiable.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding Part P, much of it from those who really should know better. Our very own Warwick District Council are still stating on their website that all work in kitchens is notifiable, 6 years after it stopped being the case!

How is notifiable work notified to building control?

There are three ways:

1. Self-certification by a registered competent person.

This refers to an electrician who is on what is commonly known as a 'Part P scheme', provided by STROMA, NAPIT, NICEIC, ELECSA etc. The electrician would carry out the work, certify it with his or her scheme provider, and the scheme provider would notify building control.

2. Third-party certification by a registered third-party certifier.

An electrician who is not on a Part P scheme would carry out the work, then another electrician (a third party certifier) would inspect the work to ensure that it is compliant, certify it with their scheme provider, who in turn would notify building control. At present, only STROMA and NAPIT members can apply to be third party certifiers.

3. Certification by a building control body.

This works much the same as for third party certification. An electrician would carry out the work, and a building control officer would inspect and certify the work.

I currently use a third-party certifier for any notifiable work that I have. The overwhelming bulk of work that I do is non notifiable so it's just not worth the time and expense for me to join a part P scheme, for now at least. If circumstances change, for example if I start doing a lot of new build work, then I would consider joining one then.

If I have electrical work that is non notifiable, can I do it myself?

Probably not. While there's nothing legally stopping anyone from carrying out electrical work, it still has to be to BS7671, and that includes testing, inspecting and certification. It's unlikely that the average DIYer will have the necessary skills, knowledge, or the (rather expensive) test equipment to do this. For most people, it's quicker, cheaper, and safer to hire a professional.